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Discovering the Cabot Trail

Driving up the north side of Cape Breton, we headed for Pleasant Bay, on the edge of the Cabot Trail. There, we stayed at a really cute motel called MidTrail Resort. It was the kind of place you look at and think it will be very basic, unlikely to even offer air conditioning. Au contraire! When I walked into the room, I had to turn around and leave and ask John to come in. What a beautiful room! Remote controlled A/C, and a queen sized canopied bed. Sliding glass patio doors led to a deck on the back, where we could sit and have a cigarette while we feasted on the view of the mountains around us and the bay below.

I ate lobster for the first time in over 2o years and we had a nice Nova Scotia Chardonnay to go with it. The town of Pleasant Bay was small, but cute, but we weren’t there for the town, we were just there to sleep before we starting driving on the Cabot Trail. Words cannot describe the majesty of the mountains, the remoteness and the beauty. Even when it rained and the fog and mist descended on us, it was beautiful. We would stop and gaze at the view around us – the beaches, the lakes, the incredible sights around us; it was impossible to believe that the world is becoming overcrowded. And yet, even in this wilderness, wireless hotspots were available… hmmm…

Coming down on the Altantic side, beside the Cabot Strait which separates Nova Scotia from Newfoundland, we saw the fury of the ocean crashing against the shores. When I get a minute, I’ll attach a short video I took. All around, neat tidy houses in the midst of which could be found a unique log and stone home which just seemed to belong as it blended into the surroundings. What I’d pay to live in a place like that and to awaken every morning to the sounds of the ocean and the beauty of the water!

Eventually, we did finish the Cabot Trail and we drove back to the causeway to reconnect with the mainland again. And for a second time, we found a Super 8 hotel in Amhurst, Nova Scotia. I really like these hotels. They offer affordable luxury in a super friendly environment. I asked to use the laundry facilities but both the washing machines had clothes sitting in them (for quite a while), and the front desk clerk (Kim) didn’t feel right about removing the clothes, regardless of how long they’d been there. So she offered to take our clothes and wash them herself. We got a call in our room awhile later, that my clothes had been washed, dried and folded and were waiting for me. Now, I don’t expect that everyone that goes there will get that kind of treatment, but it does show how one exemplary employee can make all the difference in how satisfied customers are. Both John at Mr. Lube in Dieppe and Kim at Super 8 in Amherst, have converted me to being a deliberately repeat customer. I’ve found myself looking for places that have a Super 8, and hoping that they’re as good as the ones I’ve been too.

We’re hoping to make it to the Bay of Fundy tomorrow. Click the video to get a sense of where we are – no other people around, just us and the ocean.

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Visiting New Brunswick

I always mean to pre-plan a vacation, but I usually end up making last minute arrangements because John (my husband) and I can never agree on where we’re going or what we’re going to do. And so it was again this year.

At the last minute, we decided to visit the east coast. We decided against including Newfoundland, due to the cost of the ferry and the time it would take. We didn’t feel we would do it justice, so we’re saving it for a future trip all on its own.

It wasn’t a good start, with John getting a speeding ticket in Cobourg. We drove through Quebec, staying one night just outside Quebec City, at a place called Motel 541. It was off the beaten track and very reasonably-priced. But with no air conditioning – just the basics. The room however, was extremely clean and the sheets were of a high quality.

When we arrived in New Brunswick, construction abounded, with most of the highway being worked on, resulting in many delays. This was the first time our TomTom GPS let us down. I suppose it knew there had been road closures and had guided us to the detour. The highway was open though, so TomTom lead us around in a circle! John was not amused. We stopped in Grand Falls for lunch. This was the “town” I had visited years ago, and it has really grown!

I have to admit, I last visited New Brunswick over 30 years ago and things were much different. I can’t make jokes about New Brunswickers anymore. The quality of living has vastly improved, and we didn’t see as many houses that should have been condemned, as I did last time.

Because of the improvements in their telecommunications networks, many major companies have relocated their call centres to New Brunswick to take advantage of a bilingual work force. Hats off to Frank McKenna for what he’s done for the province! The only thing I worry about is that call centre jobs usually pay little more than minimum wage to the workers and, depending on the company and how they treat their staff, these jobs are usually very high-stress and can cause heath problems in many people; but I won’t go into that aspect any further. The standard of living in the province does seem to have improved significantly. The cost of housing there is also much cheaper than in Ontario. If you had a decent job, you could live well.

But just to prove they’re not any better than any other provincial government, they have dumb ideas as well. They one stupid thing I saw was the new super-highway coming south out of Grand Falls, NB. If you miss your exit to Perth-Andover (which I did because TomTom didn’t know it had moved), you CANNOT GET OFF FOR ANOTHER 40 KMS!!! Can you believe that? A 40 kms stretch of highway that you cannot get on or off of. So I went 40 kms out of my way, with gas the price it is!! Granted, it moves traffic through the province quicker, but guess what? It also prevents them from stopping a local businesses – motels, restaurants, gas stations, etc., all of which I saw closed and out of business on the old highway. From Perth-Andover to Florence, NB, no gas, no motels, no restaurants. All out of business because their local government built a super-highway.

In Perth-Andover, we stayed at the really quaint Castle Inn, once the home of the Lewis family. In a room full of antiques with a jacuzzi tub, I was surprised at how little I paid. One of the owners told me that business had not been well since the super highway was built. Since people could travel farther, and faster, they were canceling their reservations. Millions of dollars must have been spent to renovate this beautiful historical home and turn it into an Inn. I’m sure they thank you, Frank McKenna.

We drove down and took the Miramichi River route, up to Miramichi, and then drove down the coast to Shediac. Unfortunately, they were having a festival of some sort and all motels were busy. We ended up driving west 20 kms to Dieppe, which is a suburb of Moncton. There we stayed at a Super 8 hotel, with king sized beds and a jacuzzi tub. Very nice. In the morning, we had breakfast at one of our favourite restaurants, Cora’s, which just happened to be next door. Lucky us! While in Dieppe, I got an oil change at Mr. Lube (I didn’t want to worry about my warranty), and I was extremely impressed with the service and friendliness! I am going to write to the company and mention the person who serviced us, and let them know that I am now going to be a Mr. Lube customer!

Along the way, we felt we had to choose between PEI and Nova Scotia. John wanted to see the Cabot Trail the most, so off to Nova Scotia we went. Stay tuned!